The New York Times
26 July 1896


A Sea Captain's Call on Mrs. Stowe and Her Statement Made to Him

   The leading paper in the August number of The Atlantic is a charming chapter of reminiscences of Harriet Beecher Stowe by Mrs. James T. Fields, in which occurs the following anecdote:

   "She was never afflicted with a personal consciousness of her reputation, nor was she trammeled by it. The sense that a great work had been accomplished through her only made her more humble, and her shy, absentminded ways were continually throwing her admirers into confusion. Late in life, (when her failing powers made it impossible for her to speak as one living in a world which she seemed to have left far behind) she was accosted, I was told, in the garden of her country retreat, in the twilight one evening, by a good old retired sea Captain, who was her neighbor for the time. 'When I was younger,' said he, respectfully, holding his hat in his hand while he spoke, 'I read with a great deal of satisfaction and instruction "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The story impressed me very much, and I am happy to shake hands with you, Mrs. Stowe, who wrote it.' 'I did not write it,' answered the white-haired old lay gently, as she shook the Captain's hand. 'You didn't?' he ejaculated in amazement. 'Why, who did, then?' 'God wrote it,' she replied, simply. 'I merely did His dictation.' 'Amen,' said the captain reverently, as he walked thoughtfully away.

   "This was the expression in age of what lay at the foundation of her life. She always spoke and behaved as if she recognized herself to be an instrument breathed upon by the Divine Spirit. When we consider how this idea absorbed her to the prejudice of what appeared to others a wholesome exercise of human will and judgment, it is not wonderful that the world was offended when she once made conclusions contrary to the opinion of the public, and thought best to publish them."